window.dataLayer = window.dataLayer || []; function gtag(){dataLayer.push(arguments);} gtag('js', new Date()); gtag('config', 'UA-29484371-30');
Monday , May 20 2019
Amy’s Astronomy
Soccer/Volleyball 728
STEP 728
shark 728×90
ORDT_728
JustLikeThat728
Nobleza728
Bordertown Undergroun Show 728
Home | Opinion | Op-Ed: We Need To Treat All of Education As If Computers Exist

Op-Ed: We Need To Treat All of Education As If Computers Exist

Have you ever heard of the app “PhotoMath?” PhotoMath allows anyone with a smartphone or tablet to write out a math problem, point their device at it, take a picture, and the app will solve the problem, step by step, in less than 5 seconds.

From simple math to calculus and everything in between. Check out the video above to see how it works.  (Photomath app main features from Photomath Support on Vimeo.)

Suddenly, those 50 assigned algebra homework questions don’t seem so bad. And if PhotoMath can’t help, how about zooming over to Wolfram Alpha where it will gladly not only solve the problem step-by-step, but also graph, rewrite it in an alternative format, all for free.

Don’t you wish that PhotoMath were around when you were in high school?

Need to write an essay about Fitzgerald’s Great Gatsby and it is due tomorrow? Or maybe Orwell’s 1984? Or how any of about 40,000 other books? No problem, scoot on over to enotes.com and have at it.

Plot, critical analysis, as well as hundreds of e-texts, all for free just awaiting you to come use them. Oh, and you can get math word questions answered there as well.

Technology has changed the way students have access to information. Where once students relied solely on teachers and librarians as their fonts of knowledge, now Google and smartphones are just as reliable and in many instances, more encompassing that any librarian or teacher could ever have been.

Unfortunately, the change in technology has not changed the assignments by much. Students are still being asked to solve 50 homework math problems, write reports on topics that can easily be looked up in Wikipedia and complete solo assignments as if classes were being conducted in 1979, not 2019.

Educator Alan November, in his TED Talk “What is the Value of a Teacher” calls this “old work with new tools.” Giving students assignments that were essentially developed 50 years or more ago, or hadn’t changed in any meaningful way in 50 years, to students that are using modern tools results in the same type of product that was produced 50 years ago: solo, quickly done, and without much learning taking place. Think about any report you wrote in high school. Can you remember the topic of a single one?

Probably not.

There is a saying among educators that if the questions can be “googled” for an answer, it probably is not a good question. Indeed, nowadays , questions that simply ask for facts (What is the address of the White House? What is the population of Houston Texas?) are considered trivia. Why waste time on a question that can easily be looked up?

The time has come for educators to realize that computers are a way of life, are not going away, and that the way students retain and receive information is miles apart from anything that happened prior to say, the advent of Web 2.0 in 2005.

Where is the White House? Who cares. What is more interesting is asking students if they were going to put the capital of the United States somewhere, where would they put it? The population of Houston? Who cares. But asking “Why do you think Houston has a population of 2.3 million and El Paso a population of only 750,000?”

Both of those questions do not have an answer on Google, or Bing, or anywhere else. Both of those require students to think. And both of those can be used to get students from different areas of the country working with each other on an answer.

If we continue giving yesterday’s work to today’s students using today’s tools we are going to still get the same results we always have. If however, we start using today’s tools to ask today’s questions to today’s students, then we will start changing the education game.

Conrad Wolfram, the guy behind Wolfram Alpha said back in 2018 that is was time for schools to build math curriculum “that assumes computers exist.” What he meant by that was, let the computers do the heavy lifting, the calculating.

Let the students do the thinking, coming up with the ideas of WHERE and WHEN the heavy lifting should be used.

But instead of just math, we need to rethink curriculum as if computers existed in everything: Science, Social Studies, Arts, you name it. Only then will we trust see the truly transformative nature of technology in education.

***

Author: Tim Holt is an educator and writer, with over 33 years experience in education and opines on education-related topics here and on his own award-winning blog: HoltThink. He values your feedback.

Feel free to leave a comment.  Read his previous columns here.

About Tim Holt

Tim Holt is an educator and writer, with over 33 years experience in education and opines on education-related topics here and on his own award-winning blog: HoltThink. He values your feedback.

Check Also

Op-Ed: Ian Jukes gets InfoWhelmed, Proving Anyone can Fall for and Share Misinformation

Ian Jukes is a smart guy. He is one of the old guard of ed …

3 comments

  1. I am amazed at the number of art teachers who act as if there is no such thing as digital art. Almost anything taught in a standard art class can be taught on a computer. Do you need a pencil and paper to draw perspective? No. Do you need paints to mix colors? No. All can be done digitally, or at lease in a mixture of traditional learning and digital learning. The real, amazing art work of today is being made with at least some form of digital component. I wish art teachers understood that.

  2. Frustrated Teacher

    Some teachers understand the change has taken place, but don’t have the tools in place to teach that way. Some have the tools but are teaching like they were taught. Districts buy all kinds of devices for students but do not change the curriculum in any meaningful way to use the devices that were purchased. The people that create the lesson plans, the curriculum and the standards have not figured this out.

  3. Dear Frustrated(s)
    Thank you for your comments. It is a large problem and I appreciate your comments. We need to work with district and campus leaders to make sure our children are receiving the correct type of instruction be it analog or digital. Parents must ask questions.
    TBH

Bordertown Undergroun Show 728
Nobleza728
JustLikeThat728
ORDT_728
Soccer/Volleyball 728
Amy’s Astronomy
STEP 728
shark 728×90